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Standard Interview 250610

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DER STANDARD Interview with Yukiya Amano with Julia Raabe

25 June 2010

(See DER STANDARD, in German)

(Translated from German)

The Man: Yukiya Amano (63) was elected the new Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna in July 2009 and took office on 1 December 2009. Prior to that, he was Japan´s Ambassador to the IAEA.

Yukiya Amano, Head of the IAEA in Vienna, still believes in the possibility of an agreement in the nuclear dispute.

Now it is up to Tehran, he told Julia Raabe.

STANDARD: The UN Security Council has imposed new sanctions on Iran. What does that mean for cooperation with the IAEA?

YUKIYA AMANO, DIRECTOR GENERAL, IAEA: I do not know that yet. There has been no official communication from Iran. But I have read media reports claiming Iran would reduce its level of cooperation in the event of new sanctions. But the monitoring activities (of nuclear facilities - ed.) are being carried out, and I think that Iran will stick to that.

STANDARD: Have you received unofficial signals from Iran regarding reduced cooperation?

AMANO: I have read media reports about it, that is all.

STANDARD: Do you see a connection between the sanctions and the fact that Iran refused to allow two of your nuclear inspectors to enter the country this week?

AMANO: I certainly have not heard that from the Iranians. We issued reports in March and June; Iran said parts of them were wrong. I continue to have full confidence in our inspectors´ reports.

STANDARD: Turkey and Brazil have put forward a compromise proposal in order to make a deal with Iran that failed in October work after all. The aim is to enrich Iran´s uranium abroad for fuel rods for an Iranian research reactor. What is your opinion of the proposal?

AMANO: The USA, France and Russia (who were to have been Iran´s partners under the deal as originally proposed - ed.) have written letters containing a number of questions which I passed on to Iran. I am still waiting for Iran´s response; I expect it will come soon, but there is no deadline. This is a good opportunity to talk with Iran, and I hope that Iran responds positively.

STANDARD: The letter was critical of the proposal.

AMANO: They were mainly technical questions.

STANDARD: Under what conditions is a deal still possible, then?

AMANO: We need a response from Iran; then both sides must see whether they are still interested in the proposal.

STANDARD: Do you believe an agreement is still possible?

AMANO: I believe so, yes. However, it is not very likely that it will look like what was proposed in October. Instead of shipping the uranium to Russia, Iran wants to send it to Turkey (as envisaged in the Turkish-Brazilian proposal - ed.), which is already a difference from the original proposal.

STANDARD: Those who are sceptical about the deal argue that the starting position has changed. Iran now has more, and more highly enriched uranium. What value do you see in an agreement: confidence building? Or gaining time for negotiations by moving some of the uranium abroad so that Tehran cannot use it for military purposes?

AMANO: For me, the goal is clear: to help Iran acquire fuel rods for the research reactor. For me, it is important to remain non-partisan, make my assistance available and help Iran to obtain the fuel rods. That is what is expected of me under the IAEA´s Statute.

STANDARD: When you took office, you said that there were no indications of an Iranian nuclear weapons programme; now you speak of a possible military dimension.

AMANO: That was somewhat unfortunate. In response to a question from the press whether I agreed that Iran had a nuclear weapons programme, I replied that I had never seen such a statement in an official IAEA document. And I am saying the same thing here. I have never said Iran was a threat or that it had a nuclear weapons programme. The words in my reports are carefully chosen. There are some activities which could have a military dimension which we would like to clarify. We are concerned, but we do not know.

STANDARD: Compared with previous IAEA reports, you speak much more clearly about the possibility of a military dimension.

AMANO: That possibility was also frequently mentioned in previous reports. I am new, and there are many new ambassadors. I wanted to make the reports easier to read. That was my modest aim: to make them easier to read, easier to understand, clearer.

Copyright 2010 DER STANDARD